Here are some ways you can help honor the more than 350,000 veterans who call Wisconsin home.
Each year on November 11th, we honor United States veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and service—whether past service, current service, at war, or at peace. Here in Wisconsin, more than 350,000 veterans call the state home.
It’s always okay to thank a member of the military for their service on Veterans Day and throughout the year. However, celebrating veterans, learning about their sacrifices, and supporting veterans in meaningful ways elevates a simple “thank you.” Below are some great ways you can honor veterans and acknowledge Veterans Day in Wisconsin.
Attend an Event for Veterans
Several of Wisconsin’s towns and cities have some type of Veterans Day event. Below, we’ve listed some of the state’s largest events. However, if you live too far away to attend, you will likely find some type of recognition event nearby.
Veterans Day Recognition Breakfast, Madison, Memorial Union, 9 to 10:30 a.m.
The Wisconsin Union and University Veteran Services at UW-Madison host breakfast at Memorial Union on Veterans day to celebrate and recognize veterans and service members and place flags on Bascom Hill in their honor until 4 p.m. The event also includes live music, a presentation of the flags by the Army ROTC Badger Battalion Color Guard, and speakers from UW and the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs (WDVA).
Veterans Day Ceremony in the Wisconsin State Capitol Rotunda, 10 a.m.
Wisconsin Veterans Museum Director Chris Kolakowski delivers the keynote speech based on honor, this year’s National Veterans Day theme. The Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs (WDVA) and the Madison Veterans Council host the Veterans Day ceremony. WDVA Secretary Kolar and Governor Tony Evers will also give remarks.
Veterans Day Ceremony at the War Memorial Center, Milwaukee, 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m
Colonel (Retired) Michael Williams, the State Chairman Emeritus of the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) and the Executive Director of the Wisconsin National Guard Association will give the keynote address. Attendees will also enjoy music and the National Anthem from the Milwaukee Police Band. Although this ceremony hosted by Milwaukee Police Post #415 of the American Legion is open to the public, you need to register ahead of time to reserve a spot.
Visit a Wisconsin Veterans Home
Wisconsin has three veterans homes that are operated by the WDVA. These homes are basically nursing homes for veterans and their spouses, providing around-the-clock care to those who are disabled or elderly. Chatting with veterans, thanking them for their service, and showing your appreciation by giving your time is a great way to bring a smile to their faces. Additionally, you have the chance to learn from them and hear some gripping and exciting stories from when they were enlisted. It’s always best to call ahead to find out times and protocols for visiting.
- Wisconsin Veterans Home at King: (715) 258-5586
- Wisconsin Veterans Home at Union Grove: (262) 878-6702
- Wisconsin Veterans Home at Chippewa Falls: (715) 720-6775
Visit a Nearby VA Medical Center
Visiting a VA Medical Center also lifts the spirits of patients who are likely recovering from injuries, surgery, or dealing with a serious condition or disease. Show them you appreciate them with a “thank you” and a smile and provide an opportunity for conversation. This is especially important for those who don’t have friends or family. Wisconsin also has three VA hospitals, but depending on what part of the state you live in, you might be closer to the VA hospitals in Minneapolis or Iron Mountain, Michigan. You should also call ahead to determine protocols for visitors.
- Middleton Memorial Veterans Hospital, Madison: (608) 256-1901
- Minneapolis Veterans Medical Center, Minneapolis: (612) 725-2000
- Oscar G. Johnson VA Medical Center, Iron Mountain: (906) 774-3300
- Tomah Veterans Medical Center, Tomah: (608) 372-3971
- Zablocki Veterans Medical Center, Milwaukee: (414) 384-2000
Donate to/Volunteer at Organizations That Support Wisconsin’s Veterans
Wisconsin has more than 1,000 organizations that support veterans. However, many of them are local American Legion and VFW posts. No matter where you live in the state, you can always find a way to give to vets, whether donating your time or money to a local nonprofit, business, church, school, or other organization creating initiatives to support veterans in need.
Also, the Wisconsin Veterans Network does extensive work connecting veterans and military members and their families with the services and help they need.
Here is some more information on the state’s two largest veterans’ organizations.
The American Legion has been around for more than 100 years and remains the nation’s largest veterans organization. They provide assistance for veterans, active service members, and their families with cash, donated goods, disaster relief, advocacy, and more. You can help out Wisconsin veterans by donating to the Wisconsin American Legion Foundation to support one or more of their programs.
Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW)
The VFW has been advocating for veterans who served in war or conflict since 1899. Today, the organization operates much like the American Legion, with hundreds of posts throughout the state. The VFW’s original goal was to advocate for medical care for their wounded peers and their families. Today’s VFW seeks to address immediate needs, but also is vigilant about outreach to their members and their communities by promoting patriotism, providing scholarships, and giving aid to military members and veterans in need. They rely on donations and volunteers to help carry out their initiatives.
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